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Van Susteren calls judge’s reversal in sexual assault case ‘a huge mess’

WGEM Digital Content Editor Jason Lewton speaks with Gray TV analyst Greta Van Susteren.
WGEM Digital Content Editor Jason Lewton speaks with Gray TV analyst Greta Van Susteren.(WGEM)
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:10 PM CST
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QUINCY (WGEM) - WGEM’s political and legal analyst Greta Van Susteren weighed in on the unfolding legal saga surrounding Judge Robert Adrian’s reversal of the conviction of a man accused of criminal sexual assault.

Adrian convicted Drew S. Clinton, 18, of one count of sexual assault in October 2021 and acquitted him of two other charges. Then at a sentencing hearing on Jan. 4, after hearing motions from Clinton’s attorney, Adrian reversed himself.

Adrian told the court that he was unwilling to sentence Clinton to the statutorily mandated 4-year sentence to the Illinois Department of Corrections. He said the few months that Clinton had spent in the Adams County Jail were “plenty of punishment.”

Van Susteren discussed the case Friday with WGEM Digital Content Editor Jason Lewton.

She said in a bench trial, as in a jury trial, judges will sometimes overturn a case for evidentiary reasons. However, in this case, that is not what happened.

“What he said was, according to the record, is that essentially he thought that the man, that he had convicted in October, that he had done too much time,” Van Susteren said.

That creates a sticky legal issue, she said.

“He does not have that discretion to change that statute,” she said. “He could probably have changed the conviction saying insufficient evidence. But he said he changed it because he thought it was too much time.”

Van Susteren said Adrian “stepped way outside his authority.” She said if he had said he thought there wasn’t enough evidence, he should have ruled that way in October.

She said she isn’t sure how, but she feels the case needs to be reviewed by a higher court.

“They’re going to have to straighten this out because obviously now this has become a huge mess,” she said.

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